Spain coach Vicente del Bosque believes "being favourites is a terrible trap". However, when complacency is cited as a potential weakness it is because there is no other. Since their Euro 2008 triumph, Spain have been top of the Fifa rankings for 17 of the subsequent 23 months, set a world record of 15 consecutive victories, and qualified for the World Cup by winning an unprecedented 10 games out of 10.
Along the way they have beaten England, Argentina and, gloriously, France. Spain had not won in Paris for 42 years and had been eliminated by the French at the last World Cup, but their effortless 2-0 victory in March had even the Parisians purring. Chants of Ole came from all sides of the stadium as Spain gave a masterclass. The players have remained humble, but with an unrivalled depth of talent Spain rightly head to South Africa as favourites to end their wait for World Cup glory.
Aim: Spain may not feel invincible, but they certainly look it. Anything less than a first World Cup win will be a disappointment.
THREE KEY PLAYERS
IKER CASILLAS The Real Madrid keeper's big break came in bizarre circumstances on the eve of the 2002 World Cup when Santiago Canizares dropped a bottle of aftershave and severed a tendon in his foot. Spain's captain now has more than 100 caps.
XAVI HERNANDEZ One of the finest midfielders of the modern era, Barcelona pass master Xavi is the heartbeat of the team for both club and country. Voted the best player of Euro 2008, the playmaker set up the winning goal in the final and made 254 passes throughout the tournament at an 89% success rate.
DAVID VILLA A born goalscorer with exceptional movement, Villa is second only to Raul as Spain's all-time top scorer. The 28-year-old scored seven goals in as many games during the World Cup qualification campaign and was the four-goal top scorer at Euro 2008, although he missed the final with a hamstring injury.
VICENTE DEL BOSQUE is an unassuming character who is credited by his players for creating serenity within the squad. He succeeded Luis Aragones after Euro 2008, and at his first training session he told the players: "Guys, I'm not going to change anything." He began his reign with 13 consecutive wins. Previously, the 59-year-old led Real Madrid to its most successful spell in modern history with two Champions League titles and two Spanish league trophies in four seasons before being harshly sacked in 2003.
ADOPT THEM BECAUSE...
Quite apart from being the complete team, it couldn't be easier to learn the words to their national anthem - there are none.
HOW THEY QUALIFIED
Spain's World Cup qualifying highlights
W 1-0 Bosnia-Hz. (H) W 4-0 Armenia (H) W 3-0 Estonia (A) W 2-1 Belgium (A) W 1-0 Turkey (H) W 2-1 Turkey (A) W 5-0 Belgium (H) W 3-0 Estonia (H) W 2-1 Armenia (A) W 5-2 Bosnia-Hz. (A) Qualified top of group
WORLD CUP BEST
1950: Won their group with wins over highly fancied England, Chile and the United States, but were thrashed 6-1 by Brazil in the final group stage and ended up with only a point. Quarter-finalists in 1986, 1994 and 2002.
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